Happy Hospital Week

To my CHOC family – here’s wishing you a very happy hospital week.  This is a perfect time for me to tell you how proud I am of everything CHOC has accomplished this year — the Silver Level CAPE Award, the affiliation with UC Irvine and our plans to build one of the most advanced children’s hospitals in the nation (just to name a few).  Thank you for everything you do to advance pediatric healthcare.

Thank you to CHOC Volunteers

National Volunteer Week recently passed, and I just want to take a moment to thank all of the wonderful men and women who volunteer their time at CHOC. Just in the past year, CHOC volunteers donated more than 6,000 hours of service! We are so lucky to have so many volunteers who are dedicated to supporting us in our mission of nurturing, protecting and advancing the health and well being of children.

OC Leaders Bring in Half a Million for CHOC

It’s never too late to share good news, right?? I just heard that the CHOC Follies XII “The Princess and the Prius,” which hit the stage in April, raised more than a half million for CHOC Children’s.    I want to thank all of the wonderful community and business leaders who volunteered their valuable time to this year’s production.  It was hilarious, by the way.  If you missed it this year, make sure you tune in to get the dates for next year’s performance.  It’s sure to be just as entertaining, plus it supports the most worthy cause – our children!

The 2009 Air Power Games…

Air Power Games 2009
Air Power Games 2009

I’d like to thank my friends at Kohl’s Department Stores for their $1 million total donation to the hospital at the recent 2009 Air Power Games. Kohl’s was the premier sponsor for the Air Power Games, which provided approximately 75 children with asthma the opportunity to compete in a variety of fun track and field events. The weather was great and it was so much fun! The event was a wonderful success thanks to the Kohl’s A-teams, a group of associates who volunteered from the Rancho Santa Margarita, Ladera Ranch, Irvine, Seal Beach, Santa Ana, Huntington Beach and Laguna Niguel Kohl’s stores.Congrats to the winners and see you next at next year’s competition!

Facts on Swine Flu and Children

A lot of people are worried about the swine flu.  I want to be sure parents have the facts and so I asked one of the CHOC Children’s experts a few questions.  Here’s what she had to say:

What is swine flu?
Swine flu, or swine influenza, is a contagious respiratory disease that affects pigs and is caused by the type A influenza virus.  These swine viruses do not typically infect humans; however, there have been instances of the virus spreading to people – and then from one person to another.

How does the swine flu spread?
The swine flu is thought to spread the same way as seasonal flu does in people, which is mainly person-to-person transmission through coughing or sneezing of people infected with the influenza virus. People may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes.  An infected person can spread the virus before any symptoms develop.

What are the symptoms of swine flu?
Symptoms of swine flu are similar to those experienced with seasonal flu: fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Some people with swine flu have also reported vomiting and diarrhea.

Are children at greater risk?
At this time, there have been more cases occurring in children compared to adults. Keep in mind children with pre-existing medical conditions or weakened immune symptoms are at greater risk for developing complications from the flu, including death.  Parents should teach their children proper hand washing techniques and keep sick children home from school and daycare settings.

What’s the best way to teach children about proper hand washing to help prevent the spread of germs?
Frequent hand washing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. It is important to teach children as early as preschool about proper hand washing techniques. Start by wetting both hands with warm water. Apply soap and rub vigorously, including the palms, back of hands and in between fingers. Keep rubbing vigorously for at least 15 seconds. Here’s a tip: Have your child wash for as long as it takes to sing the “ABC Song.” Turn off the water using a paper towel. Teach your child that hand washing is a must after using the bathroom, before and after eating, after blowing his nose or coughing, after playing with pets, after playing outside and, of course, when hands are visibly dirty. In addition to frequent hand washing, teach your child to never share straws, cups and eating utensils. It’s also a good idea to teach your child to cover his mouth when he coughs or sneezes.  If he can’t get to a tissue, he should cough or sneeze into the crook of his arm or into his shoulder. As a last resort, if he must sneeze into his hand – then, of course, immediately wash his hands.

Family Autism Network Provides One-Stop Resource for OC Families Coping with Autism

CHOC Children’s, UC Irvine and the Grandparent Autism Network came together to provide a one-stop resource for all Orange County families impacted by autism and related disorders — The Family Autism Network.

If you don’t already know, CHOC and UC Irvine have been collaborating on two neurodevelopmental programs for children ages 5 and under:  For OC Kids Neurodevelopmental Center, which provides evaluation, diagnosis, treatment, support, and education for children who have a wide range of developmental disorders; and Help Me Grow Orange County, which connects children and families who have developmental and behavioral concerns with community resources. The Grandparent Autism Network (GAN) is a third partner in the Family Autism Network.  GAN is a volunteer-based nonprofit organization that informs grandparents about autism and raises awareness and support for autism. The Family Autism Network will expand upon the resources provided by these groups, and serve as a central source for information for all families.

April is Sports Safety Month!

Like all fun-loving bears, I enjoy a good game of baseball during Springtime! Of course, we always need to play safe and avoid injuries. Did you know that with proper equipment and extra attention to stretching and conditioning, many injuries can be prevented? Dr. John Schlechter a specialist with the CHOC Children’s Orthopaedic Institute, sent me the following tips to share with parents to help keep children safe.

Head Injuries: To prevent severe head injury, the use of a helmet during batting is required. To ensure a proper fit, the circumference of your child’s head in centimeters should be measured and compared with the size listed on the helmet. Be sure the helmet fits your child’s head snugly. It should be level, with two fingers’ width of space between the eyebrow and helmet. Never purchase an oversized helmet in hopes your child will grow into it.

Playing Fields: Level playing fields free of debris and severe irregularities are essential to prevent falls and lower extremity injuries. Break away or detachable bases should be installed to prevent foot and ankle injuries.

Pitcher Position: The shoulder and elbow of a thrower/pitcher is at risk for an injury if insufficient stretching, warm-up or improper mechanics, and overuse occurs. Using proper technique and limiting pitch count and the type of pitch thrown can dramatically decrease the risk that your child could suffer from an injury. Thanks to the work performed at the American Sports Medicine Institute, guidelines for age- based pitch counts and pitch type have been developed and should be implemented and followed in your local league. For more information, visit http://www.littleleague.org/Learn_More/rules/pitch_count_resource_page.htm

Happy Doctor’s Day!!!

As we celebrate Doctors Day at CHOC Children’s we take this opportunity to honor our physicians for their dedication to the children we serve. Each day they offer hope and healing through their compassionate and world-class care. Take a moment to visit our website and read about some of our docs and the amazing things they do for our kids: http://www.choc.org/100stories/index.cfm?keyword=docs

Anaheim Ducks Dedicate New Wing at CHOC

I had the huge honor of hosting the Anaheim Ducks – including my pal Wild Wing – here at CHOC for the dedication of the new Anaheim Ducks wing on the hospital’s oncology floor.  The wing includes a playroom/school room, teen room with a flat screen TV and electronic games, staff lounge,  family room and storage space.  It has the coolest graphics on the walls – they make you feel like you are right there on the ice with the players.  The teen room is great for our teen and adolesecent patients, encouraging them to hang out with each other.  As part of the CHOC Children’s Cancer Institute’s Adolescent and Young Adult Program, the hospital wanted to create an environment that would help make teen cancer patients still feel like teens.  Allowing these patients to hang out with each other versus with younger patients or with adults at adult facilities is much better for them psychologically, too.

Here I am pictured with Wild Wing and Dr. Sender, the medical director of the CHOC Children’s Cancer Institute.

OC Leaders Take the Stage for CHOC Children’s

I have been known to showcase some smooth dance skills every now and again – not easy for a bear my size.  There’s nothing like dancing, especially when combined with singing, to cheer one’s soul.  That’s why I am counting the days until CHOC Follies XII: The Princess and the Prius, featuring more than 100 of Orange County’s society, business and civic leaders singing and dancing to raise funds for CHOC Children’s.  This hysterical musical production will hit the Robert B. Moore Theater at Orange Coast College on April 2 at 8 p.m., April 3 at 8 p.m., and April 4 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.  More information, including ticket prices and sponsorship opportunities, can be found at www.chocfollies.org.